Targeting Faulty Brain Circuitry Could Improve Schizophrenia’s Negative Symptoms


Targeting faulty brain circuitry could improve schizophrenia’s negative symptoms. Scientists indicate the brain circuitry associated with negative symptom severity in schizophrenia. In their study, they focused on different ways of “repairing” this breakdown.

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder which can be characterized by symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. The condition also has other negative symptoms including monotone speech, anhedonia, and avoiding social communication.

Researchers currently have less knowledge about the actual causes of schizophrenia but treatments include undergoing psychological counseling and taking antipsychotic medication.

Specialists wanted to test the brains of people who experience negative symptoms of schizophrenia. The team from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA explains that there may be a link between symptom severity and a breakdown in the circuitry between the brains right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the cerebellum. Their study was published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

However, the researchers didn’t find any association between a breakdown in the circuitry and existence of symptoms including hallucinations and delusions. Then, the team wanted to see whether targeting this brain circuitry could improve schizophrenia’s negative symptoms. They found that participants who received brain stimulation reported better improvement in negative symptom severity.

“For some people with schizophrenia, the noninvasive brain stimulation had a powerful impact; for others, it wasn’t as powerful,” Dr. Brady said adding “In all cases, reconnecting the network explained how much improvement the patient experienced. For the first time, we know what brain circuit to go after.”